So Simple It’s Self-Explanatory

In the marketing world, we communicate.  We explain, answer, and review.

A product is developed, and we communicate about that product.  We create a service, and explain how the service benefits you.

But this is changing in the digital economy.

Take the typical app.  Do you go on a website or download a manual on how to use it?  Or is it simple and intuitive enough that it explains itself?

Or the Google search engine.  When you arrive, it tells you it’s a search engine simply by being what it is.  There is no booklet, no press release that explains it.

Gerry McGovern notes this is the part of the dying way of traditional communications:

“Traditional communications is often based on the principle that you need to do some preliminary reading before you can use or understand the thing. But that presupposes a different world. It presupposes that people are willing to read descriptions, introductions, and backgrounds.

Today, if you have to tell someone something is easy, then clearly it is not. If it was actually easy, as you state in your flowery, gushy language, then you wouldn’t have to use flowery, gushy language. It would be, instead, just like Google. The moment you looked at it, you’d know exactly what to do. That’s easy.”

He likens traditional marketing communication to cholesterol.  It clogs the customer journey, losing the conversation.

Indeed, today’s consumers have short attention spans because they are greedy about their time.  They won’t lend it out just to have it wasted with flowery, gushy language offered by fake customers that have little to do with the product.   Consumers today are cold-hearted bastards who don’t want to read your shitty copy.

Harsh as that description is, it’s a good place to start when thinking about today’s communicative landscape.  We live in an age where digital tools are so intuitive people are coming to expect they can be used without a learning curve.  Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Apple (to name a few) are all organizations that trained users to expect simplicity.

When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone – with one button – he gave us a device of truly elegant simplicity.  People just start using Facebook.  There is little in the way of directions, and what’s available never gets read.

It’s a useful metric:  if you have to explain to someone how easy something is to use, then it’s not really simple.

Apply that metric to your marketing communications.  It’s a game-changer.